How to Encourage Pincer Grasp in Babies

a baby using a toy to encourage pincer grasp in babies

Author: Circle of Care

As babies grow and develop, they gradually acquire new skills and abilities, one of which includes the pincer grasp. The development of the pincer grasp plays a crucial role in a child’s overall dexterity and independence. Encouraging pincer grasp in babies can help them gain more confidence in their capabilities.

What is Pincer Grasp?

The pincer grasp refers to a fine motor skill that involves using the thumb and index finger to pick up small objects. The development of the pincer grasp typically occurs around 9 to 12 months of age. Before this stage, babies usually use a whole-hand grasp to grab objects. However, they begin to refine their coordination and finger control, enabling them to perform more precise movements with their hands.

The two types of pincer grasp include:

  1. Radial Pincer Grasp: In this grasp, the thumb opposes the side of the index finger. It is commonly seen when a baby picks up objects between the side of the index finger and the thumb.
  2. Inferior Pincer Grasp: This grasp involves the thumb opposing the pad of the index finger. It is often observed when a baby uses the tip of the thumb and the pad of the index finger to pick up objects.
By the age of 10 to 12 months, about 50% of babies develop a pincer grasp.
Source: American Academy of Pediatrics

How to Encourage Pincer Grasp

The pincer grasp plays a large role in a baby’s developmental milestones, enabling them to explore and interact with the world around them. By incorporating various activities and toys that encourage finger coordination and hand strength, parents and occupational therapists can actively support the development of their baby’s pincer grasp.

Provide Appropriate Toys

Offer your baby toys that are small, lightweight, and easy to grip. These toys should stimulate their curiosity and encourage them to use their thumb and index finger to pick up objects. Rattles, small blocks, or stacking cups are excellent choices. As your baby reaches out and grasps these toys, their hand-eye coordination and pincer grasp will gradually strengthen.

Finger Foods

Introduce age-appropriate finger foods into your baby’s diet. Soft fruit pieces, cooked vegetables, or cereal puffs are great options. Place these finger foods within their reach and encourage self-feeding. This practice not only promotes their independence but also allows them to practice the pincer grasp while developing hand strength and dexterity.

Play with Containers

Engage your baby in playtime activities involving containers with lids, such as nesting cups or plastic jars. Encourage them to open and close the lids or drop objects into the containers. These activities promote finger coordination and refine the pincer grasp. Your baby will enjoy the challenge of manipulating the containers while enhancing their fine motor skills.

Puzzles and Manipulative Toys

Invest in puzzles, shape sorters, or toys with buttons, zippers, or latches. These toys require your baby to use their thumb and index finger to manipulate various elements. As they solve puzzles or interact with manipulative toys, their pincer grasp will be further developed. These activities not only support their fine motor skill development but also provide cognitive stimulation.

Sensory Play

Engage your baby in sensory play activities that involve hand manipulation. Activities such as playing with playdough, finger painting, or squeezing water toys provide tactile and sensory experiences. These activities stimulate the senses and strengthen the muscles in their hands, indirectly improving their pincer grasp.

Fine Motor Exercises

Engage your baby in simple finger-strengthening exercises, such as those encouraged in occupational therapy sessions. For example, provide them with a soft ball to squeeze, present small objects for them to pick up using a tweezer-like tool, or string large beads onto a shoelace. These exercises help build hand strength and refine the pincer grasp. Incorporating these exercises into your baby’s routine can enhance their fine motor skills.

Benefits of Occupational Therapy for Pincer Grasp

Through targeted interventions, pediatric occupational therapists can professionally assess a baby’s fine motor skills, identify any underlying issues or delays, and provide customized strategies to promote the development of the pincer grasp. They use specific exercises, activities, and techniques to strengthen hand muscles, improve hand-eye coordination, and refine finger movements.

Benefits of occupational therapy for babies with pincer grasp issues also include addressing sensory or motor challenges that may be affecting a baby’s ability to develop the pincer grasp. By working closely with parents or caregivers, occupational therapists provide education and guidance on incorporating pincer grasp-focused activities into a baby’s daily routine.


Pincer Grasp Occupational Therapy at Circle of Care

At Circle of Care, our experienced occupational therapists specialize in working with babies and their families to develop a pincer grasp. We offer individualized services that build on a baby’s strengths while addressing any fine motor delays or challenges. Contact us today to learn more or schedule an appointment for pincer grasp occupational therapy.



Learn More About Our Pediatric Therapy Services at Circle of Care